Here is the post you've been looking for: A complete guide of ways how to write characters better, whether you're looking to create protagonists, antagonists, or minor characters from a range of award-winning and bestselling authors.
Pop quiz: What's more important—characters or story?
I admit that this is a trick question because the answer is both. Great stories need characters, and great characters drive stories. What is The Shining without Jack Torrance? Or Murder on the Orient without Hercule Poirot? How about the Harry Potter books without Harry, Ron, and Hermione?
Sure, you can throw a few plot points together and have a story. But for readers to care (truly care) about the story, they have to care about the characters. They have to want the protagonists to succeed, want the antagonists to fail, or feel conflicted about why things have to happen the way they do.
This type of emotion is only drawn from compelling characters, and I've gathered together 20 incredible posts from WritersDigest.com to help everyone write characters readers will love or love to hate. I've broken these posts into three sections: Character Description, Types of Characters, and Diving Deeper Into Character Development.
One way for readers to connect with characters is through character description. But there's more than one way for writers to describe their characters.
- 3 Ways to Introduce Your Main Character, by Les Edgerton. One of the biggest bugaboos in manuscript submissions is when the author doesn’t properly introduce the protagonist within the first chapter.
- The 7 Rules of Picking Names for Fictional Characters, by Elizabeth Sims. No matter what sort of character name you’re pursuing, heed common sense and follow these seven tips to make sure you pick the best names possible for your story.
- 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters, by Brenda Janowitz. Here are the top 10 questions you need to be able to answer about each of your characters.
- The Difference Between Character Habits and Quirks, by Paula Wynne. Learn the subtle (yet important) differences between character habits, behaviors, mannerisms, and quirks and how to apply them to your characters.
- 11 Secrets to Writing an Effective Character Description, by Rebecca McClanahan. 11 secrets to keep in mind as you breathe life into your characters through effective character description, including physical and emotional description.
Types of Characters
Once you know how to describe characters, learn the differences between protagonists, antagonists, monsters, unreliable narrators, antiheroes, and minor characters.
- How to Create a Successful Protagonist, by Joseph Bates. Create a successful protagonist for your fiction by looking at what drives protagonists in stories and connects them with readers.
- 8 Tips to Writing Unreliable Narrators, by Deb Caletti. Here are 8 reliable ways to make your narrators just unreliable enough to keep readers guessing.
- Defining and Developing Your Anti-Hero, by Jessica Page Morrell. Find out what makes a memorable anti-hero tick and how to write them.
- What is a Minor Character: Understanding the Minor Character's Role, by Orson Scott Card. So where is the dividing line between major and minor characters? There isn’t one.
- Writing Monsters: What Makes a Monster Scary?, by Philip Athans. Learn about five qualities that will make your readers’ skin crawl when you’re crafting monstrous creatures.
- 8 Journeys and Motives Behind Evildoers, Antiheroes, and Antagonists, by Dustin Grinnell. Take a deep dive into how and why evil develops in story and in real life and how you can apply these concepts when writing villains.
- Exploring Star Wars and the Hero's Journey, by Rachel Scheller. Learn how to craft an incredible story by exploring Star Wars and the hero’s journey.
Diving Deeper Into Character Development
So now that you know all about description and character types, use these posts to dive even deeper into your character development.
- Creating Emotional Frustration in Your Characters, by Nancy Kress. Frustration is often the most important emotion for fictional characters. Their reaction to failure drives the plot.
- 5 Moral Dilemmas That Make Characters (& Stories) Better, by Steven James. Use these 5 keys to weave moral dilemmas into your stories—and watch your fiction climb to new heights.
- How a Strong Character Arc Can Make Readers Love Your Protagonist, by Jerry B. Jenkins. Novel readers love it when a protagonist dramatically transforms from Page One to The End.
- Keep It Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part I), by Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz. Trupkiewicz details the importance of creating realistic dialogue and punctuating dialogue properly in order to keep the reader invested.
- Keep It Simple: Keys to Realistic Dialogue (Part II), by Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz. Trupkiewicz follows up on her discussion of realistic dialogue with an impassioned plea: stick to said.
- The 9 Ingredients of Character Development, by Tom Pawlik. Learn the 9 ingredients of character development.
- How to Craft Compelling Characters, by David Corbett. Use this foolproof method to bring the emotion of your story to life and craft compelling characters.
- 8 Ways to Write Better Characters, by Elizabeth Sims. Depicting convincing relationships could just be the key to writing better characters.
When you take this online writing course, you will learn how to create believable fiction characters and construct scenes with emotional depth and range. Create characters readers will love and develop a strong point of view for your fiction book today!